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Williams gets a kick out of ownership and authorship

By Isaac Murphy

It’s been a month to the day since the Desley Williams-owned and Kerry Hoggan-trained Canya Kick broke her maiden at Capalaba.

In that time, she’s gone from a seven-start maiden to a sub-thirty Albion Park 520 metre bitch and a Brisbane Young Guns finalist this Thursday night.

Williams, who is an experienced hand in the greyhound industry, has been blown away by Canya Kick’s trajectory and was riding the wave after a slow start to her career.

“The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, we didn’t expect her to be in a Young Guns final so quickly, she could always run but had a lot of box issues,” Williams said.

“She hasn’t completely eliminated it; you can see her clawing at the box before the start, but she’s got a lot better since we sent her to Capalaba for a bit of an education.

“We got all that we hoped for out of her stint there and more, she trialled in a similar time to her 19.57 she won her Maiden in, so unless the clock was wrong, we’ve got an extremely fast straight track runner too.”

Canya Kick

Hoggan brought Canya Kick straight to her Novice at Albion Park after the slashing win, and despite not scoring first-up, she showed the track and trip were what she was crying out for.

“We were really encouraged by her first run over the 520 metres at Albion, on debut over the distance she stuck on really well in second,” Williams said.

“I thought she would take improvement and be able to come out and win her Novice the next week as she did, but she surprised me again on the clock (29.97).

“She got everything her way out in front, to see her come from behind and run past Hope’s King and Hara’s Clyde in the heats was another string to her bow.

“It’s been a hell of a turnaround, a month ago she was a maiden now she’s in a Young Guns Final.”

Given the jump in class from her Novice to an age race, Canya Kick was kept safe in betting jumping at double digits.

Her heat on paper looked like a battle between Hope’s King and Hara’s Clyde, but it was the unheralded bitch that made a name for herself.

“When she was travelling third in her heat, I thought that’s a good result and we might scrape into the final, but to run past those two dogs and to be sitting there alongside a Group One winner like Oh Mickey it’s pretty surreal,” Williams said.

“I’m taking the same mindset into the final as the heats, if she runs a big race then fantastic but if she doesn’t, she’s already exceeded expectations and will be better for the experience.

“I think for her to have a chance at winning she’ll need an inside draw and clean getaway, if a few of the speed dogs draw alongside each other out wide there can often be trouble when you’ve got a number of dogs who can go 5.50 to the first mark.”

Williams became close with Kerry and Ian Hoggan when she moved to Churchable two decades ago, the two even bought each other’s properties all while developing a good friendship.

“I fully trust Kerry and Ian with her and I have them to thank for the sharp improvement you’ve seen over the last month - they’ve made all the right moves,” Williams said.

“Even after her Novice win it’s a big jump in grade to the Young Guns, but both of them said ‘don’t worry ,she’s ready for it’ and we came away a heat winner.”

Albion Park

Brisbane Young Guns (L) H 520m

The joys of greyhound ownership have been a welcome relief for Williams, who has endured a torrid twelve months with the tragic loss of her daughter, who she calls on for inspiration every day.

“I lost my daughter Natalie (Ward) to epilepsy last year, she was only 29 - a life which was far too short,” Williams said.

“Going through something like that obviously takes the wind out of your sails, but after a while you realise that Natalie would have wanted me to keep on living an active life and I went in search of a bitch to buy to keep my mind active and myself motivated.”

Williams had a set of criteria she wanted her young bitch to meet and after an arduous search finally found her greyhound, and she didn’t have to worry about names either. 

“I wanted a bitch that could run 520 metres, so I could go on and breed with her once racing was over,” Williams said.

“I’d been searching for quite a while and they’re not easy to find, but I really think Natalie helped steer me to her when I found her through mutual friends.

“The next step was the cost and we finally came to a deal as long as I named the bitch Canya Kick per original owner Toby Weekes’ request.

“They wanted the name because they were sponsoring a young girl who was looking to play soccer for Australia and wanted to name a greyhound after her, they tried Canya Kickit and got knocked back, so she became Canya Kick.”

Williams said there were early concerns with Canya Kick when she was running very slow times in her early trials, but a trip to the vet cleared that up.

“I was rapt to get her but came down to earth pretty quickly once Kerry and Ian started trialling her around 17 months old at Ipswich, she was running very ordinary times,” she said.

“We took her to the vet to get checked out and he said when did she come on season, she’s making milk, we didn’t even know she was going through her first season.

“She sat on the sidelines for a few weeks and got back to trialling and was back to where we thought she should be.”

Williams doesn’t come from a greyhound background, but once she found the sport twenty years ago she was hooked.

Since then, she has done everything from whelping to traveling with champion chaser Dashing Corsair, and was now looking to give back some of her knowledge.

“I was introduced to greyhounds through my ex-husband not knowing a thing about dogs or how to train them,” Williams said.

That was about twenty years ago, and the whole way I’ve just kept picking up little pieces of knowledge to where I think I’m pretty well informed now.

“We had a great ride with Dashing Corsair, so I got to travel around the country seeing him race and watching what all the best trainers were doing and also had the first-hand experience at home of breeding, rearing, whelping the whole lot.

“It’s a lot of work - you need to have a partner to do it with and I was so lucky to have that with Kerry.

“We’ve been great friends for a long time and I know her and Ian have a fantastic setup.”

Williams’ extensive involvement in all things greyhounds led her to put pen to paper, producing a guide for trainers, owners, breeders young and old on how to get the best out of the process.

“With all my knowledge and first-hand experiences, I actually sat down and wrote a book which is currently being proofed by editor of The Chase Magazine Pat McLeod,” Williams said.

“My Greyhound Handbook on Whelping and Care of Brood Bitch and Pups is the title.

“I had my own business at Toogoolawah for five years and all I did was whelping and keeping the pups up until twelve weeks, so I knew what I was doing.

“After a bit of research I saw there wasn’t really any other book in Australia out there like it, which made me push even harder to get it out there.

“All up, I whelped over 100 litters and upwards of 500 pups, I learnt things you only could first-hand and the book gives a step-by-step guide on the entire process.

“I was lucky enough that Tony Brett, who I’ve whelped for, wrote an excerpt on his litters that I’ve whelped.”

Similarly to Canya Kick’s success, writing the book was soothing for Williams who carries her daughter’s spirit with her in whatever she does.

“It was a great sense of accomplishment when I finally finished because I took a lot out of me emotionally to get started,” Williams said.

“My daughter and I had always planned to do it together, she was a marketing manager and was going to take care of all the things I didn’t have a clue about.

“I procrastinated for a few months and really didn’t have the energy to do it, but one day bit the bullet and just put everything into it, I know Natalie was helping me all the way.”